John Hughes must be a happy man. His first CD, Kora Sutra, could not have been created otherwise. Serenity and joy float through this recording like a raft floating down a wide, placid river, inviting the listener to float along.
Hughes, a multi-talented musician, artist, and teacher, has trained with master drummers from Guinea and Mali, and teaches drumming workshops across the US. I first heard Hughes' music at an African dance recital, where Yemaya (track one of the CD) served as accompaniment. Arranged from a traditional Yoruban chant from Nigeria, Yemaya is a languid, unhurried piece consisting of percussion and vocals. The music didn't just enhance the choreography: it made me want to join the dancers on stage. Luckily, I found the CD at the snack table during intermission.
The rest of Kora Sutra continues at a similar leisurely pace. It's a relaxed collection of original compositions informed by traditional African rhythms and melodies, employing such instruments as the sangban, udu, kalimba, dunun, balafone, and the eponymous kora--this last one being a plucked harp-lute with a large calabash (gourd) body, a cow hide "sound board," and twenty-one nylon strings. Hughes plays all of these instruments, some of which he built himself.
If I wanted to describe the "stand-outs" on Kora Sutra, I'd only wind up listing all the tracks. Some of the stand-outs of the stand-outs include:
John Hughes' Kora Sutra is the perfect accompaniment for dancing, relaxing, or just being happy to be alive. Thanks for sharing the wealth, John.
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